These gradually died away, as the terrified host fell back. At eight o'clock the well-known signal for their retreat was sounded, and immediately after, small parties were seen running off in different directions. One large canoe, employed in carrying a party across the mouth of the Montserado, venturing within the range of the long gun, was struck by the shot, and several men killed.
Winn collected as many as he could of the first company, also the stores sent out with them, and settled the people in temporary quarters at Fourah Bay, while Bacon set out to explore the coast anew and secure suitable territory. An elevated fertile and desirable tract was at length discovered between 250 and 300 miles S.E. of Sierra Leone. This was the region of Cape Montserado.
Watching their opportunity when the boats went up the river Montserado, in search of water, they sheltered themselves beneath the large trees and rocks which overhung the narrowest parts of the river, from whence they fired upon the boats at pleasure, alike without the possibility of receiving any injury, or of their victims avoiding the danger by a hasty retreat.
By the end of April all of the colonists who were willing to move had been brought from Sierra Leone to their new home. It was now decided to remove from the low and unhealthy island to the higher land of Cape Montserado only a few hundred feet away; on April 28 there was a ceremony of possession and the American flag was raised.
This purpose they, however, effected upon the small island of Perseverance, situated near the mouth of the Montserado, where they were kindly received by Mr. S. Mill, an African by birth, who was at that time occupant, and from whom the island had been purchased by Dr. Ayres on behalf of the Society.
The legislative authority consists of a Senate of two members from each county, elected for four years, and a House of Representatives holding office for two years; four members being apportioned to Montserado county, three to Bassa, one to each other county, with one additional representative for each 10,000 inhabitants.
Thus the N.E. side of the peninsula is washed by the above rivers; and the whole of the S.W. side by the sea. The north-western termination of this linear track of country is Cape Montserado, which towards the extremity rises to a promontory, sufficiently majestic to present a bold distinction from the uniform level of the coast.
The negotiations were conducted in the presence of an excited crowd and with imminent danger; but Stockton had great tact and at length, for the equivalent of $300, he and Ayres purchased the mouth of the Mesurado River, Cape Montserado, and the land for some distance in the interior. Some of the colonists refused to leave, remained, and thus became British subjects.
A few persons who did not wish to go to Fourah Bay remained in Sierra Leone and became British subjects. Bacon found a promising tract about two hundred and fifty miles down the coast at Cape Montserado; but the natives were not especially eager to sell, as they did not wish to break up the slave traffic.
The cape upon which the settlers proposed to build their first habitations consists of a narrow peninsula or tongue of land formed by the Montserado River, which separates it from the mainland. Just within the mouth of the river lie two small islands, containing together less than three acres. To these, the Plymouth of Liberia, the colonists and their goods were soon transported.